I was playing with my old cockatiel the other day when I started to notice she was bumping into things a lot and just generally didn’t seem to have her head screwed on.
She seemed physically fine, but I wondered if there was something wrong with her eyesight, since she kept walking into things in a way she has never done before.
I was naturally very worried and got her to a vet as soon as I could, but it did generally get me thinking about whether cockatiels could go blind.
So, I decided to look into it.
So, can cockatiels go blind?
Yes, cockatiels can go blind like any animal. In old age, your cockatiel is very likely to at least begin losing visual acuity as it gets older and may eventually go completely blind. Cataracts can be a problem, but this can usually be treated. You should always consult a vet.
So, cockatiels can definitely go blind.
Knowing that is important, and knowing that it may well just be a natural part of the cockatiel’s life as it gets older.
Their other senses should compensate for the lack of vision as best they can.
Let’s look further into this.
What causes blindness in cockatiels?
A number of different factors, but most commonly it is just general degradation of eyesight over time and into old age—just as we experience it.
This is known scientifically as retinal desecration and is an entirely normal phenomenon.
Birds, in fact, have strong instincts, and usually, adjust quite well to blindness in old age.
Even if you do only suspect it to be degradation into old age, you should still have your cockatiel evaluated by an avian vet.
There could be more going on, and even if not, they can give you particular advice on care.
Naturally, though, other things can cause blindness which needs to be treated.
Cataracts are a common problem for cockatiels and can be quite easily removed by a vet to restore the bird’s eyesight.
If your cockatiel is any less than 10 years, then degrading eyesight should be a big cause for concern.
Always take the bird to the vet in any case, but especially if it is even reasonably young.
If your cockatiel does go blind, you might worry about how to care for it. there are a few tips to make your cockatiel’s life as comfortable as possible.
How do you care for a blind cockatiel?
The most important thing is routine.
Your cockatiel will begin to build a picture of where everything is, if it didn’t already have a mental image from before it was blind.
Once your cockatiel has gone blind, you should keep moving things around to a minimum.
This will reduce the stress of having to figure it out again.
Beyond that, you can make a deal more noises to reassure it that you are there.
Talk to it even more, and do your best to reassure it with sounds and with touch.
The most important thing is routine, though, and making sure it knows what it is doing without having to look.
But do they always go blind?
Do cockatiels always go blind?
No, not always, by any means.
Naturally, in captivity, cockatiels will live a lot longer than they would in the wild—this opens them up to a much higher likelihood of eventually going blind in their old age. But they will not always.
Carotenes are compounds found in many foods—including carrots—that help slow the degradation of the eyesight.
If you get plenty of carotenes into their diet, they are much less likely to go blind.
So, no, cockatiels do not always go blind by any means.
Signs your cockatiel is going blind
You will begin to notice quite quickly if your cockatiel’s eyesight is diminishing.
They will be much clumsier, bumping into things and generally finding it harder to get around.
They won’t be able to perch as easily and they may even fly into things, if they are still flying.
The other way you can tell is by looking directly into their eyes.
When it comes to cataracts, you will very clearly see that something is wrong.
Even in old age natural blindness, their eyes may begin to get very white as they get older.
At some point in many animals’ lives, they have to accept that their senses are not what they used to be.
Eyesight is one of those universal ones which seems to degrade the quickest in many species, whether its us or cockatiels.
But even if your cockatiel goes blind with many years of life left, there are plenty of things you can do to make their remaining years comfortable and enjoyable.
Whatever the case, though, make sure to have your cockatiel evaluated by a vet.